How to stain your garage door to look like wood

I know that carriage house garage doors are a new trend...but I don't like the look.
I think the hinges look too thin for the weight and size of the door...

So, here's my tutorial on how to make your garage doors look like wood.
Most garage doors are stamped to look like wood grain even though they are metal. It's a pretty easy thing to do overall!

I used the mahogany wood gel stain by Minwax (even though it's for wood, it works on metal).


and a polyurethane exterior clear coat to be used with an oil-based bristle paintbrush intended for use with oil based paints).

 Here's the original garage door:

I also painted the gutters in the meantime, see my entry about DIY copper gutters
First, you need to wash your garage door several times, I first pressure washed it to remove all dirt, then I scrubbed it with a rough brush (and warm soap and water), and then finally rinsed with with a vinegar solution to make sure there was no grease that would affect the gel stain.

You wouldn't believe the chalky color that washed right off my door. The door color faded after washing.
I used the foam brush to do the first coat. Do not shake the gel stain or it will bubble as you put it on. These bubbles are permanent and will mess up your work. Instead, stir gently with a paint stir stick, being careful not to "whip" the gel.

Here's the first coat:

It's a little spotty, as you can see.
I did a second coat the next day. You will want to make sure you follow the instructions on the can of wood stain for metal or aluminum.

Here's the second coat:

So much darker than the first coat. 

After this dried for about a day, you will want to do at least two coats of polyurethane clear coat on top of it.
Since gel stain is oil based, if you use a water based poly topcoat, you will want to make sure it it completely dry before you put the water-based clear coat on top of it (or the oil stain will bubble under the topcoat).

If you don't want to worry about that, use an oil based poly clear topcoat (I linked to the right one, above). But still make sure the gel is 100% dry first. I had a can of topcoat already in my garage, so I used that.

After two coats of this (each dried for about a day), I have my finished garage door! The wood stamping on it showed through the staining process, and my garage door looks like real stained wood - for far less than the cost of a professional painting it, and especially buying a wooden garage door!!